Education and Training: Master’s degree in operations research or management science
Average Salary: $69,000
Job Outlook: Excellent
Program analysts are also known as operations research analysts in the United States. They are responsible for developing procedures that help companies and businesses manage time, money, people, and equipment in the most efficient manner. Program analysts use techniques such as advanced analysis, strategic thinking, and forecasting to improve efficiency and make profitable decisions.
Program analysts start by listening to problems and then suggest solutions by asking questions, analyzing problem areas, and discussing possible outcomes with their team. A lot of different techniques are used for this purpose, mostly mathematical modeling and data analysis. Once the managerial team approves these solutions, program analysts work on proper implementation and execution by collaborating with other teams in the company.
Automotive industries, manufacturing units, and even defense units hire program analysts.
Education and Training Requirements
A master’s degree in quantitative research, engineering, applied mathematics, or operations research is recommended. Graduates from dual degree programs in operations research and computer science are preferred by companies as program analysts.
Those with PhD and doctoral degrees can get top level consulting positions. In addition to academic qualifications, program analysts must be comfortable using advanced research software and should ideally have exceptional computer related skills since most data analysis is done with the help of a computer.
Employers also look for additional skills like attention to detail, logical thinking, and teamwork.
Getting the Job
Program analysts start by doing data analysis for senior research analysts. After they have gained some necessary experience, program analysts are given complex research tasks and can start performing the role of an operations research analyst.
Student internships during graduation can increase employment opportunities for hard working, meticulous students.
Job Prospects, Employment Outlook, and Career Development
Employment opportunities for program analysts are expected to grow 22% by 2018. With the advancement of technology, businesses will hire more program analysts to increase efficiency and create cost effective production models. Additionally, globalization will result in more competition among businesses, as a result of which more and more businesses will hire program analysts to increase profits and cut costs.
Job prospects for program analysts will be best in management, technical consulting, and scientific firms. Since this field is unexplored and relatively new, a fewer number of candidates will mean less competition and better opportunities.
Working Conditions and Environment
Program analysts work in an office environment though some may have to be on field where they analyze processes onsite. They usually work under tight deadlines and may have to work longer than the standard 40 hours a week.
Because of the nature of the job, program analysts may be prone to stress and posture related problems.
Salary and Benefits
As of May 2008, the average salary of program analysts was $69,000. Those working in management and consulting earned $80,290 median while those working in the government had a median annual salary of $107,198.
Benefits include typical employee benefits like bonuses, life insurance, medical insurance, and sick leave. In addition to this, companies also provide tuition reimbursement for program analysts who want to attend advanced programs in operations research.
Where to Go for More Information
Institute for Operations Research and the Management Sciences
7240 Parkway Dr., Ste. 300
Hanover, MD 21076
Military Operations Research Society
1703N Beauregard St., Ste. 450
Alexandria, VA 22311